For the third year in a row, the winner of Medici was the player trailing at the end of the Final’s first round. Patiently climbing the pyramid would prove decisive again over bidding aggressively in pursuit of high boat. All five finalists had impressive semifinal wins, but in different ways that would lead to different Final strategies.
- Charles Faella won the most hotly contested semifinal, a two-point win over Jessica Shea and Mike Huggins who tied for second. Bidding was fierce, with the winning score being a mere 80 points – by far, the lowest winning total of any game in the tournament. Charles earned the reputation for liking to create card shortages, thus keeping bidding high and point totals low.
- Mark Love won with the highest total points (139) scored in the semi-finals. Finishing second with an impressive 122 points was 2009 champion, Robert Drozd. Going into the semifinals, Robert was the presumed favorite after winning both of his heats. Mark earned a reputation this week for bidding aggressively for high boat.
- Alyssa Mills was a WBC veteran but relative newcomer to Medici yet patiently climbed her color pyramid for the win while keeping a low profile among the sharks. She defeated two previous Medici champions (Doug Galullo and Scott Cornett) who went crazy in outbidding each other for cards the other wanted (50 points for a 1 value card!).
- Romain Jacques was another WBC regular who had yet to earn a Medici laurel, but had downed 2002 champion Ann Bruck Cornett in the preliminaries. He earned a narrow six-point win over Cary Morris to reach the Final. His earlier tendency had been to bid low for cards, always seeking that chance to win three cards for the price of one.
- Susan Cornett (133 points) won over Glen Pearce by the widest margin (31 points) of the semifinals. Susan said that all the cards turned over perfectly for her. Defending champion, Jefferson Meyer, after finishing last, predicted her to win it all because “fate” just seemed to be on her side.
In a 5-player game, each player should be able to win one color. That being so, the competition should come down to who does the best at high boat. Here is how it played out:
Susan started the game testing the bidding levels by dealing and buying a 5 card for a price of 7. Romain could not believe such a high bid for a single card. Her high boat strategy failed as her 19-point hand finished in only a tie for third best boat. Mark cruised to the early lead with 47 points, earned high boat (24-point hand, and held a huge 20-point lead over last place.
In the second round, bidding for cards was even more aggressive. After a tie with Charles for high boat (20-point hand), Alyssa took a narrow 7-point lead with 61 points. Alyssa and Susan both reached the 10-point bonus level in their color pyramids. Mark now trailed at 50 points, but the competition was still very close with only four points separating second from fifth.
In the last round, bidding was aggressive for high boat, but even more selective for color. Mark earned high boat (24-point hand), but it cost him 29 points. Three players reached the top of their color pyramid (Mark, Alyssa, and Susan) while Charles and Romain finished in the second highest pyramid spot. Mark and Charles fought it out for the silver pyramid, thus allowing Susan to take two colors. She filled her hand early, fearing a possible card shortage, which did occur. As cards were running out, players still passed on colors they were not seeking. Susan managed to tie (with Romain) for second highest boat (18-point hand), yet without having to get into the end-game bidding war. “Fate” would give Susan the win by only seven points (95 total), while any other result in boat or color rankings could easily have changed the outcome.
Susan is the fourth from the Cornett household to win the Medici title. After losing her first heat, she is now holding a 4-game winning streak. Susan will no longer have to endure the household reputation for “being incapable of winning.” Years ago while our children were growing up, we never realized that five eventual world champions were at the kitchen table competing against each other, including neighbor “Uncle Doug” Galullo.
And now, some not so vital Medici statistics you always wondered about from this year’s tournament:
- The average win is by a 12-point margin over 2nd place (14 last year).
- The average winner scores 120 points (114 last year, when we played mostly 5-player games).
- The average player scores 99 points (91 points last year).
- The most points scored was an amazing 157 by Cliff Ackman.
- The largest win margin was 43 points by Cliff in that same game (second place in that game was Chris Gnech at 114 points).
- The most points by a second place finisher was 140 by Chris Erickson, losing by just two points to Steve Shambeda.
- Most commonly played color was blue (played 27 times). Red was second at 26.
- Favorite color among winning players was blue, preferred by nine winners compared to six for next best (purple and yellow tied).
- Blue also had the highest win percentage among all the colors, winning 33% of the times that blue was played.
- Winning color in the Final: Purple with Pink Polka Dots (my private color). Susan prefers green, but Mark took that. This did confuse her at one point when she almost moved the green marker. She played green in each of her other four games. Next year, Susan plans to introduce Green with Sparkles to the tournament as her own private color.
- Among the Cornett’s, the worst performing was me with a second, third and fourth in three heats. Yes, I am now the family title holder for “being incapable of winning.”
Jeff and Jessica use one of the many newer editions of the game.
GM Jeff Cornett oversees his five finalists.
| Jeff Cornett [4th year]
|| 728 Ashgrove Terrace, Sanford, FL 32771